We are selling our current house (little nest) and building a bigger house (bigger nest) in a nearby town.
This project (and it is a huge project) has been underway for a little over a month now, and we are now in full swing selling AND building mode.
I'm going to do a series of blog postings about the process of selling as well as building.
This first installment is about selling with kids.
Selling a home is a huge undertaking from prepping the home, staging it, cleaning it, showing it, etc. It is only further complicated by having kids involved.
Kids = Stuff. Lots of stuff.
We had to figure out a way to stage and present our home to buyers as a "family home" while not looking like the cluttered messes we usually are AND while still keeping it in functioning order for a toddler and newborn baby...PHEW!
I'm not saying we've mastered it, but I think we've got a few tips we've learned along the way I can share with you.
Kids have tons of stuff! Clothes, toys, art projects, etc. For us, the biggest (and most time consuming) step was to downsize our kids' stuff. We went through all of Mason's clothes and kept only the items he will be wearing between now and when we move into our newly built home (late Sept-Early Oct). All off-season clothes (too small and hand-me-downs he doesn't quite fit into yet) were boxed up and put in a rented storage space.
We did the same with his toys. We picked through all of the toys and stored everything he is too big for that Emerson is still way to little for and stored those right away. We also stored toys that he doesn't use very often. We had to downsize books as well. This is actually a really nice thing to do in general because now he has less options to pick from and any parent of a toddler knows that less often means more when it comes to overwhelming them with toys! Also, when we move into the new house the kid's gonna think it's freaking Christmas because all of his old/new toys will reemerge!
Steven & I also downsized our stuff. We donated a ton to Goodwill and boxed up all of our off-season clothes for storage as well.
Once we had only the essentials left in the house it was a lot easier to stage.
Also, if you can, block off part of your home to the kids. We currently have a 2,100 sq foot house. We shut off the basement from Mason, so we only have been living on the 1,100 sq feet on the main level since the showings started. This has eliminated the need to clean and organize the downstairs area every single day. The basement is essentially a museum...only collecting small amounts of dust, leaving me with only half of the house to clean when a showing occurs.
2) Use your space wisely
Obviously, Mason still needs to be able to have toys to play with. The problem is, people don't like seeing toys out when they tour a house (unless they are perfectly organized like no family's house actually looks like). We own an ottoman in our family room that has the hidden storage inside. It's worked out perfectly for Mason's smaller toys (matchbox cars, tractors, etc) so at the end of every playtime we can just throw them all in his section of the ottoman and put the top on! Emerson has her own section of the ottoman for rattles and small toys as well.
Once we downsized the number of books in the house (we had a literal library going on), I was able to fit what we kept in his little book sling in the family room. Now it looks organized but is also still fuctional.
We took some toys and staged a playroom in the basement. It might sound mean, but we don't let Mason use it. Once we are done showing the house (which will hopefully be a quick process) he can go crazy in the new "playroom" but for now it's just staged to show that it could be used for that space. You have to be mindful that every area you allow your kids to play in you will have to clean up EVERY SINGLE TIME they play there. For your own sanity, you have to limit the play spaces and number of play items. I think sometimes we get so hung up on the number of toys we forget how happy kids can be with the simplest things.
3) Timing is EVERYTHING
Unless you have to, don't sell your house in the winter (at least not in MN). The beauty of selling in summer is that Mason still has access to all of his outside toys and it's a heck of a lot easier to throw a couple cars & bikes back into the garage before a showing than pick up 500 toys off the living room floor! Take advantage of the season to allow the kids to have more outside than inside time. The less time they are in the house the cleaner it will stay meaning less work for you during showing times!
4) Have a "Home Base"
If you're lucky like us, you'll have family close-by and you can hide-out at their house while your showings are taking place. We had 18 showings in the first 6 days on the market (yes, you read that correctly), which meant that we had to basically not be home the majority of the time the first week on the market. I would clean the house, pack up Emerson and the two dogs, pick up Mason from daycare, and cruise up to my in-law's house for the day/evening. You need to have a place that is kid-friendly that you can retreat to (no matter the weather) while you are showing the house.
Your house needs to look like a house that a family lives in...that a family doesn't actually live in. Makes sense, right? Not! Our realtor provided us with a stager who helped us rearrange furniture/decor to make the house look presentable and allow for maximum space (as in, "Wow this house looks SO BIG!") We followed about 80% of her advice, only ignoring the parts where she advised that we buy items to stage...because I'm not buying something just to have somebody buy my house. I also learned a trick to bake cinnamon in the oven before showings. I also heard baking cookies was good, but who has time to clean up after cookies after baking them? PLUS, someone is trying to lose/keep baby weight off, so I definitely wasn't signing up for 18 batches of cookies in 6 days! Take a cookie sheet...cover it in tin foil...sprinkle cinnamon on. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees and start your cleaning/pick-up routine. TURN THE OVEN OFF BEFORE YOU LEAVE!! Your house will smell AMAZING and help people feel right at home!
6) It Will Suck.
Understand this will not be life as usual. You will be sacrificing your comfort and convenience for the sake of a greater good. You wilsl be tired. You will not feel like packing the diaper bag/breast pump/toys for the 1,000th time in a row. You will not feel like making every bed in the house, wiping down every surface, etc. every day. It will suck. But hopefully only for a little while. I joked with our agent that we weren't actually living in our house when it was showing, we were just guests and the potential buyers were actually living in it (because they spent more time in our house than we did while showing). As they say, this too shall pass. If you're selling your house it is hopefully for a better situation on the horizon so be patient and don't expect it to be fun! The fun part is when you sell it :)
**I can now say that after following the advice above we have received a full price offer on our home after 6 days on the market (WAAHOOOO!!!) Showings are *fingers crossed* done and we can go back to un-made beds and crumbs on the floor (just kidding...the dogs clean those up) until we move in about 45 days.**